Monday, September 18, 2017

Worldview

When I was counseling, one of the things I used to try to get a sense of early in a client's treatment was his or her view of the world. Many presented as depressed, but I could sense glints of a more optimistic worldview deep down. It was up to me to help the client bring that healthier worldview back into focus. The more difficult to treat were the clients with extremely harsh, punitive, or cynical ways of looking at the world. When I heard their stories, I could often understand where these outlooks came from. Some were able, with therapy, to become happier with themselves and, consequently, the world. 

Others, unfortuately, were not able to pull out of their harsh ways of looking at the world. If damaging behaviors were good enough for thier parents, they were good enough for them, by golly!  The abused sometimes become abusers. There is simply no insight into the damage he or she is perpetuating. No self-awareness. 

I find that when I am around defensive, pessimistic, or rigid people for very long, it becomes harder to keep the more optimistic worldview that I spent years working on to overcome less than positive early experiences. I am having to "double down" to keep from being sucked down into holes I do not wish to revisit. 

That glass is going to be half full!



 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Detachment

 Detachment is an art in which I am not proficient. I tend to invest deeply in people, places, and causes I love and believe in. 

However, lately, I am finding myself in a number of situations where I can't reconcile my core beliefs with those being espoused around me. Love, grace, acceptance, inclusion,  mercy, peace...I can't (and don't want to) change or give up those beliefs. 

What do I do when almost everywhere I go I am being pounded words and actions that cause such dissonance in my mind that I come away feeling spiritually and emotionally battered? It almost makes me wish I was the type of person who can float through life without the entanglements of deep emotional investment. But, that is not me. 

So, I must find ways to at least temporarily detach from situations that I feel like I cannot physically escape at this time. 

Ideas are welcome. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

No Words

I realized today that I have not posted on my blog in over a month. I go through phases with this thing. I have been doing it for years. Sometimes I have a lot to write about and sometimes, like the photo says, "There are no words." 

This summer has been a time of no words. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings, but others are saying things much better than I can at this moment. They are echoing my thoughts and feelings and I have little to add. 

I am content at this time to let others be my "voice" on a number of subjects, especially on social media. I just don't have the energy to express myself effectively. So, I keep to myself unless I am with my safe people, donate to organizations that can do the things that need to be done, do what little I can personally do to help.

And pray...a lot. 

 

 

Sunday, July 09, 2017

End of an Aria

There comes a time in every singer's life where the voice begins to lower and some notes are no longer reliable. I was always more of a "second soprano" and never had the really high notes. However, there were notes that were reliable and things that I knew I could sing. Until today.

I had been practicing "Come Unto Him" from Handel's Messiah all week. It was not perfect, but did not sound too bad. I was actually taught this song by Joyce Williford about 40 years ago for a tryout piece for voice scholarships which I was offered from the University of Southern Mississippi and Delta State. I have been singing it periodically for all these years. 

Age and illness have caught up with me and this song is simply not reliable enough to keep in the repertoire. The actual performance today came off reasonably well, but the practice was awful! I cracked notes right and left. I was afraid that I was going to humiliate myself in front of the congregation. The heat was a factor (our church does not have AC), but in my heart, I know it is time to let it go. 

It is my hope that I will be wise enough to recognize when something is no longer pleasing to the ear and adjust accordingly. I want grow old vocally with a degree of grace and dignity. 

And, hopefully, I will know when to hush for good. 



 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Fireworks

I must admit that I am not a huge fan of fireworks. I was never one for loud noises. I also was not a fan of that much of my money going up in smoke!  I do have some happy memories of my Daddy and some of the other men in the neighborhood shooting off bottle rockets toward each other's yards. That was fun, pretty safe, and not horrifically noisy. 

However, I know that fireworks are the whole ball of wax for some folks. I get that. I do. 

Everyday I see pictures on Facebook about how we should be eternally grateful to our veterans for their service and sacrifice. I don't post a picture every day, but I am thankful for what they did. I am particularly appreciative of the services of my grandfather, my father, and my husband, none of whom came home irreparably damaged by their military experiences. 

However, all this sentiment seems to go out the window on "fireworks holidays." People protest their RIGHT to shoot any and all fireworks for as long as they wish. And not just on the holiday, but on the days surrounding that as well! 

If you have a combat veteran living nearby, it might be kind to warn him or her when you are about to start your festivities and also to consider quitting at a reasonable time (by midnight at least?). Maybe you could even donate a portion of your fireworks money to organizations who help those who fought for our freedom. 

Have a safe, happy, and considerate 4th! 

 

 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Annual Conference 2017

The 2017 Annual Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church is in the books. 

Conference is physically demanding for me. I get up before 5 AM in order to drive to Jackson and get a handicapped parking space by 7 AM. I do enjoy that quiet few minutes before everyone arrives just to take it all in. One of my favorite people usually comes in early as well and we get a few precious moments to chat. 

This has been a season of some discouragement for me. New health issues, fatigue, feeling the need to make some changes in my life and activities, have left me feeling lost at times. I have questioned aspects of my faith, wondering just where my place is. 

This year's positive, upbeat Conference was a tonic for my tired body and my weary soul. There is just something indescribable about connecting with my fellow United Methodists, some of whom are personal, longtime friends. Many of them, like me, are cradle Methodists of many generations. This photo was taken as people circled around a precious delegate whose church had endured a terrible split, but was still vital and beginning to grow again. They "had her back." 

I came away physically exhausted, but spiritually renewed. Thanks be to God. 


 

 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Aquapolypse2017

At 11:00 AM last Wednesday, the water went off in Vicksburg. 

My husband and I made it through Day 1. we keep both jugs and bottles of water here at all times. However, we were not prepared for the prolonged outage that this promised to be. We had plenty of drinking water, but flushing...well that was another matter! I am unable to lift very much at one time and weakened further by bronchitis, trying to collect enough water was just not going to happen. We evacuated to Clinton. 

I kept up with what was going on via social media. I was proud of the city for pulling together to weather the crisis. A few comments were discouraging. Any mayor expected to be able to correct years of infrastructure neglect singlehandedly is simply an unfair judgment.  Apparently, he is also supposed to somehow stop trees from falling on power lines during a storm as well! As it was, the repair was done about as quickly as was humanly possible and water was restored in the city. Sorry, Culkin friends. I hate that your generosity has caused hardship for you. 

It was also ironic that some of the nastiest posts came after water was being restored. People who do not understand the process of restoring water to small communities who buy water from the city were complaining about the use of water by those who are in the main part of the city. I will always remember the name of one person in particular and hope I never run into her!

I waited to come home until the pressure had been restored.  Ironically, the power went out 2 1/2 hours later! Entergy has done a lot of tree trimming, but they can't control straight line winds that can level entire trees in seconds. 

Right now, I have power and water. I consider myself fortunate. If any of my friends reading this need access to either, I am here. Come on. 



 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Roots

Before I went to look for my roots in Virginia, I decided to bite the bullet and do one of those Family Tree DNA things. Due to delays with the company, I was not able to get my results before I went. 

Even before I sent in the sample, I was pretty sure of what the results would be. The only surprise is that there is not more of a concentration in the British Isles. 

I was never really into this genealogy stuff until fairly recently, but I find that the more I dig up, the more I want to keep digging. Ironic analogy since I come from a long line of planters and I am the one who can kill a plant in record time. 

Now I just have to figure out where that rogue Spaniard came from. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bronchitis...again.

It looks as if this is the time for my annual bout of bronchitis. I am thankful that it at least waited until after Easter to hit this time. I got to enjoy singing for Hermanville, Porter's Chapel UMC, and St. Alban's this year. It did not hit me during my vacation, for which I am also thankful. 

I know what I have to do to get through this. I have to temporarily shut down. Rest, both physical and vocal are crucial. I have medications. I have my vocal rest badge. I have fancy teas. I just have to have patience. This is not one of my prime virtues. 

I have been strugglings with making some decisions about life changes (nothing drastic!) and this may be my opportunity to reflect on what needs to be happening in my life at this point. 

TTYL

 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Unhappy Mother's Day

After 26 years of being without my mom, Mother's Day no longer holds the sting it once did. I am blessed with other "mother figures" in my life. I can now look at the ads and commercials and not get teary eyed. 

I know several people who are facing that first Mother's Day without their moms this year. That first one is especially tough. it gets easier, but that does nothing to make you feel better NOW. (((Hugs))) to you.

I also know a number of folks who have mothers who are physically here but are estranged for a variety of reasons. Some mothers are simply too ill, addicted, or abusive (both physically and emotionally) for their children to remain in touch and stay mentally, spiritually, and physically healthy themselves. Some of my friends have "adopted" mother figures who help fill the void, but I don't imagine anything can help completely.

Whatever your situation, I hope you have the best day possible. 

 

 

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Sabbatical

Driving thousands of miles alone on my recent trip to Virginia gave me a lot of time for reflection. 

Since I had to retire from full-time work due to health issues, I have filled my time with volunteer work. Church activities, teaching watercolor, singing for nursing homes, and maintaining an art space at The Warehouse to benefit Lifting Lives Ministries have kept me busy. Too busy.

So, for the summer, I have decided to step back from one of my most rewarding, but time and energy consuming activities. I am taking a break from teaching watercolor at the Senior Center. I have been doing this for 8 years without a significant break that did not involve illness or surgery! 

So, I am taking a break. Time to relax, reflect, and reassess. 


 






 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Virginia

Yesterday, I returned from my trip to Virginia. I had been through Virginia on my way to other places. But, I had not spent any significant amount of time there until now. 

I have to say that I absolutely LOVED Virginia! It is one of the most beautiful states I have every visited and I have been to 26 of them. 

I was not able to find hard evidence of additional family connections to my great-grandfather but did find some potential connections that I may be able to explore online. The Fauquier County Public Library was very well organized and Vicky the librarian was a great help.

Our tickets to Monticello ended up being on the rainiest day of the trip, but we got to see the innovative home of our third President. He was indeed a man ahead of his time.

The trees were amazing!! Pink and white dogwoods were in full flower, I saw my first empress trees, and their azaleas were just blooming. I felt Iike I got to experience Spring twice! 

The thing that impressed me most was the people. Drivers allowed people to merge, did not tailgate, and were not constantly honking their horns. They allowed me to navigate crosswalks without either trying to zoom around me or ignoring the crosswalk altogether. People held doors open for me everywhere. Wait staff at restaurants were able to accommodate my dietary needs without any problems at all.  People were friendly and helpful even when they did not know I was a visitor. 

I am planted in Mississippi, but if I should ever want to live somewhere else, it would definitely be Virginia. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Road Trip!

Tomorrow I leave for my longest solo road trip ever. I am going to Fauquier and Culpeper Virginia, the land of my Nelson ancestors. 

While there, I am hoping to find a link or two beyond my great, great Grandfather, Major B.F. Nelson who was born September 4th, 1817 in Fauquier County. At some point, he moved to Copiah County, Mississippi and sired George B. Nelson, who then fathered George B. Nelson Jr, (my grandfather), and my Daddy, George B. Nelson III. 

Along the way, I am going to stop and have meals with family and friends. And, special friends are going to meet me in Virginia and hang out with me (and hopefully help me with my research!) while I am there. A trip to see the home of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, is also in the plans. 

I am going to have to be careful to pace myself, but I have my neurologist's blessing to make the trip. Many things have been weighing heavily on me for some time, and I am looking forward to leaving it all behind for a few days. 

A fun song mentioning from Virginia from one of my favorite musicals, 1776! 

https://youtu.be/urgrF6OBuZc

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

FODMAP

A couple of weeks ago, I had never heard of a FODMAP. My GI doc had to write it down because I had no idea what he was saying.

FODMAPS are:
a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. FODMAPs include fructose (when in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose and polyols (eg. sorbitol and mannitol).

These are not well absorbed in the bodies of some folks. In some cases, they can aggravate IBS. In my case, I was having pain very similar to what I was having before I had my gallbladder out. Apparently, my body is simply no longer processing certain foods the way it did before my cholecystectomy. 

So, reluctantly, I gave my bread, cashews, granola bars, apples, cookie mixes, prepared soups, and honey away and began the diet. For me, that word has always been DIE with a T, but I wanted to feel better. 

After only two weeks, I actually feel a lot better. The pain is mostly gone unless I accidentally ingest something that is on the no-no list. My beloved garlic is a major offender and it seems to be in EVERYTHING! Much of what I am not supposed to eat, I am allergic to already, so I don't miss it. Alas, much of what I would be allowed to eat, I am allergic to as well! I don't miss bread as much as onion, garlic, and mushrooms. I do miss pasta and am hoping to find some FODMAP approved varieties soon. 

One of the advantages to patronizing local restaurants is that the managers/owners can tell me exactly what is in most of their food. They have been wonderful in adapting menu items so that I can enjoy them. Billy's, Goldie's, Gumbo Pot, Rowdy's, and The Coffee House Cafe have kept me from starving thus far. I am also having to cook more, which is not entirely a bad thing for my waistline or my wallet. 

Besides not being in as much pain, there have been some other perks of the low FODMAP diet. My reflux is much better and I have been able to cut my medication in half. I am, slowly, losing some weight, and best of all, I actually have more energy. I am not going to be running any marathons, but I seem to be able to get a little more done these days. 

This lady has a great website for guidance on how to manage this diet:

http://www.katescarlata.com/


Bon app├ętit!





 




Monday, April 03, 2017

Tornado Warning

Last night, we had an honest to goodness tornado warning. Not a watch. A real live warning. 

When Dave Roberts told me to get in my safe place, I realized that I don't really have one. We can partially close off a tiny bit of hallway, but that it about it. Everything else has an exterior wall and windows. 

I dutifully grabbed my spare bed wedge, a couple of pillows, and a blanket. Trying to actually get down on them was a quite a scene. I am glad no one was recording that operation with a cell phone! When the all clear was sounded, it was an equally entertaining scene trying to get up. Thank goodness my husband was there to help me. 

I have often worried about not hearing the phone ring at night with my red alert calls. My mind was set at ease last night. I received SIX calls. Three on my home phone and three on my cell would be enough to wake even me. 

Thankfully, we escaped any major damage. But, this is Mississippi in the Springtime. 

My pillows and blankets will stay handy. 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Basketball

I admit it. I am not a basketball fan. It moves so quickly that I have trouble following it. The score changes with nerve-wracking swiftness. I would rather watch football or baseball. 

However, when a Mississippi team is working hard and doing well, I am happy for them. My sister and brother-in-law both graduated from MSU and I have a nephew there right now. 

Once the Lady Bulldogs got to the Sweet 16, I tried to watch the games. My heart just couldn't take it! It was all I could do to tune into the last 5 minutes!  How could die-hard State fans watch and not have heart attacks??

I will be following the game via social media on Sunday. But, you can rest assured I won't be tuning in till the last 5 minutes! 

Good luck to the Lady Bulldogs! They have earned their place in history. 

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

*Disclaimer* This is not about any of my dear friends who happen to be blessed with the name Mary! 

In every life a little contrarian must fall, I suppose. Lately, on Facebook, there have been a couple of folks who seem to believe it is their bounden duty to contradict posts whenever and where ever possible. This is not just on my own posts, but the posts of friends as well. Some of them are not friends of the person whose post I might comment on but choose to step in and hijack the post for their own agendas. I don't mind opposing viewpoints, but when it is a never ending campaign it gets wearying.  A change in Facebook settings may be in order. 

For the most part, I try not to post anything too controversial on my own wall. I don't like conflict and negative, contrary people are draining both in real life and on social media. As a retired counselor, I admit that I try to figure out what causes them to be so ornery. 

 A June 9th, 2016 article in Psychology Today states:

"While contrarians often see themselves as righteous defenders of truth, others may experience them as crotchety pot-stirrers." 

Bless their hearts. 

My grandmother used to say "It takes all kinds to make a world." But, I don't necessarily have to let them into MY world. A visit to the unfriend and/or block buttons may be in order.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Food, Glorious Food

As appetizing as this picture looks, if I should eat it, I would be in the Emergency Room within minutes. I am very allergic to the strawberries, cantaloupe, and the kiwi. Now, on this new FODMOP diet that I am on, the cherries and peaches are off limits.

As a child, I was the queen of the picky eaters. I could not bring myself to eat peas or beans. I was not big on fruit. I could not drink milk without getting queasy, and I never could quite get used to yogurt. I never really liked tuna, and thank goodness the smell of cooking shrimp discouraged me from ever trying it.  I was one to eat cornbread, meat, hard cheese, eggs, tomatoes, starchy vegetables, and peanut butter. 

Over the years, I tried to add the foods that I had not wanted to eat as a child, but they were never quite tolerated and some even caused almost disastrous results as my ER bills will attest.

Ironically, when I was tested for allergies, I came up allergic to most fruits and non-starchy veggies, ocean fish and shellfish, most peas and beans, and coffee. Long time reflux keeps me from citrus fruits and spicy things. 

Ironically, on this FODMOP diet, many of the things I am allergic to are off limits. Many of the things that I would not eat as a child are also on it. I have to wonder if my young self instinctively knew that these foods were not good for me.  Fortunately, I had parents who did not push me too hard to eat the things I did not want. 

My "child self"  was instinctively wise to what my body needed and did not need. As I go through this plan, I am going to try to recapture that instinct for what my body does and does not want and need. 

Wish me luck!

 

 

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

FM Radio

On my last vacation, instead of plugging in my iPhone with its customized playlists, I decided to listen to old fashioned FM radio.

It turned out to be a lot of fun. As one adult hit/Top 40 station faded out, I would scan to see if I could find another one. I almost always could. I found out that John Tesh really is everywhere with his 'Intelligence for Your Life.' 

Best of all, I heard some new (for me, at least) songs. Ed Sheeran's 'Shape of You', Nathan Sykes 'Over and Over Again', Andy Grammer's 'Keep Your Head Up' (How did I miss THAT??), and 'Scars to Your Beautiful' by Alessia Cara. 

I am glad that I got out of my iTunes rut long enough to rediscover the fun of scanning for new stations and hearing different music. Of course, now that I have discovered it, I will be downloading it on iTunes! 

Here is a radio song for your morning. 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azdwsXLmrHE

Monday, February 27, 2017

Uncertainty

"In conditions of uncertainty, humans, like other animals, herd together for protection."
-James Surowiecki

Don't get me wrong, I do understand that nothing in life is ever totally certain. But, lately, I wake up every morning to terrifying levels of uncertainty. And, I am one of the "lucky" ones. Caucasian, middle-aged, retired, and with enough resources to live comfortably. 

When I wake up, I read about today's "target." Who is it going to be this time? Is my local Mexican restaurant going to be raided? Are the precious Vietnamese people who do my nails legal and safe? Is some mad man going to mistake one of my friends (or one of my doctors!) who hails from India for someone from the Middle East? It seems that anyone who is black or brown is at increased risk right now. That scares me.

Are my LGBT friends going to lose their hard won rights? Are my friends with disabled children and grandchildren going to be able to send them to school? Are my friends going to lose their health insurance? Am I going to wake up to find that America is engaged in a nuclear war? 

Uncertainty is one of the most difficult things to live with. Anyone who has every waited for medical test results, that college acceptance letter, or the phone call telling you that you got the job can certainly relate.

As a Christian person, I am trying to cling to the 103 verses in the King James version of the Bible that tell me not to fear. 

I'm working on it. 





 

 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Pinterest Success

Most of you have seen the pictures of what happens when ordinary people try to recreate something they saw on Pinterest. There is even a site that highlights some of these failures.

http://pinterestfail.com/ 

However, I had seen this shaving cream marbled paper idea that I was compelled to try. I love using this type of thing in collage work. So, I went to the dollar store, bought some cheap shaving cream and one of those disposable aluminum baking pans and went to work.

Not being certain of the permanence of food coloring, I chose to use liquid watercolors instead. 

I recommend doing this outside if at all possible. It is messy! 

I was able to get 4 sheets of marbled paper from one shaving cream/watercolor bath. Each one was a bit lighter, but I can use all of them for various projects. I found that different colors needed to be stirred more, especially the red.

Overall, I was very happy with my results and plan to do more soon. 

 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Hidden Figures

My husband and I went to see this movie yesterday. I had heard good things about it from my friends, and this movie did not disappoint. 

It also set me to thinking (dangerous, I know!). These women almost did not get to do the wonderful things they did just because of their gender and the color of their skin. That thought just stuns me. It also made me wonder. What if that refugee that we "can't have over here" holds the key to a cure for cancer or our shot at putting a man on Mars, with the right education and support. 

 In today's world, I just don't think we can afford to waste intelligence and talents. I don't care if they are Arab, Mexican, Cuban, African, or whatever. The world needs ALL of us, using whatever gifts we have to keep it going. 
 
" Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:2 

You never know. 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Impossible Detox

I see variations of the meme on social media all the time. Detox your life in 4 easy steps! Yes! 

No. 

What if the people who do this are family members? Co-workers? Church mates? Difficult people cannot always be as easily avoided as this meme makes it sound. 

Granted, I have been able to distance myself from people in the past who have done all these things. But, what does one do when one has no choice but to be with people who do these things on a regular basis?

Some days, I can shield myself to an extent. This is never easy for me. Being around these behaviors on a regular basis can make me physically ill. But, if I quit every organization or activity where folks do these things, I would not have much of a life outside my home! 

2017 will see me working to develop my defenses. I may have to get out of situations which become completely intolerable. And I want to learn how to better deal with difficult persons who cannot be avoided. 

Wish me luck. 

 

Monday, January 02, 2017

Organizing Art Supplies

Today, I used my "Christmas money" to hire Lacey McLaughlin of Neat Freaks Organizing to help me clean up and organize my art area. 

Said art area is actually a corner of my living room and is not very large. Making the most of my small space was a challenge that Lacey took on willingly. Bless her. 

My supplies had become so scattered and piled up that I found my creativity was stifled as well. I look forward to being able to regain my creative freedom as I use my newly reorganized space. Now I just have to find the time to do my own art in between getting ready for classes and other obligations. That is the hard part. 

Wish me luck!